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Knife possession at nine-year high, Ministry of Justice figures show

Knife possession at nine-year high, Ministry of Justice figures show

The number of people caught carrying knives and offensive weapons in England and Wales has reached a nine-year high.Figures for the year to March show 22,041 offences were dealt with by police and the courts.The Ministry Of Justice says this has increased 34% since 2015 and is the highest number since 2010.Almost two-thirds of cases did not result in immediate prison - but for those jailed, the average term was 7.9 months, up from 7.1 months in 2017-18.
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The figures record the number of people caught with or making threats with blades or offensive weapons that resulted in a conviction or caution.
It comes amid a national debate on the issue of knife crime, following a spate of assaults and killings involving young people.According to the MoJ, one in five of those convicted or cautioned was aged between 10 and 17, a slight fall on the previous year.The MoJ started to report the figures in March 2009.They also show:
In 2018-19, the criminal justice system dealt with 13,986 offences of possession of an article with a blade or point
There were 7,175 cases of possession of an offensive weapon other than a knife or a blade and 880 where a blade or weapon was used to make threats
The percentage of incidents resulting in an immediate custodial sentence was 37.3%, the same as the previous year
Suspended sentences rose from 18.9% to 19% during the period, while the percentage of those receiving a caution dropped slightly
72% of people found with a knife or offensive weapon were first-time offenders
The MoJ said the average custodial sentence imposed had increased from 7.2 to 7.9 months for adults and 5.9 to 7.7 months for 16- and 17-year-olds.
Data reflects surge knife crime surge - and the police response
A close look at the data suggests that, in terms of knives and objects with blades, a record was set in the first three months of 2019 for the number of possession cases dealt with by police and the courts. There were 3,682 offences - the highest quarterly total since the statistics were first compiled in 2007. The figure, which is an estimate because of the time for some cases to be processed in the system, has been above or near the 3,000 mark for three years. It clearly reflects the surge in knife crime, particularly in large cities, as well as increased police action to tackle the problem. For example, in the Metropolitan Police, the number of stop-and-searches has rocketed, from 10,940 in March 2018 to 26,913 a year later. Searches that month led to 514 weapons offences, which may go some way to explaining the record possession figures nationally.
Charlotte Pickles, from the Reform think tank, said the figures suggested tougher sentences were not an answer to knife crime, adding: "Politicians focusing on law enforcement are mistaken - you cannot arrest your way out of this."She said the root causes of poverty, school exclusion, poor mental health and drugs must be addressed.Javed Khan, chief executive of the charity Barnardo's, said: "Knife crime is a symptom of a much bigger problem. When young people feel there is little or no possibility of a positive future... they are vulnerable to exploitation and criminality."Responding to the figures, justice minister Robert Buckland said the government was committed to doing everything in its power to stop knife crime and its devastating consequences.He added the Offensive Weapons Act, which came into effect last month, would make it harder for young people to buy knives and help the police target those most at risk of being drawn into violence.
Knife crime
Ministry of Justice
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